Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So much food, so little time.

Smoken Joe's - Brighton, MA

     Well, I've got a good deal of deliciousness to catch up on. I can't seem to stay on top of it (that's what she said). This may have been a bad choice. But it was Saturday night after a long week of difficult practices. I had ribs on the brain all week. My body just yearned for sweet bbq. I got out of work late, met up with my roommates and Alyse, and we scurried over to Smoken Joe's on Washington. We tried to get there before 9 so we didn't have to pay cover because a band was playing (ended up having to pay just for being there... caution). Either way. Corn bread was calling my name. The sweet potato fries looked amazing. The smell of beef brisket lingered in the air. This place had to do it right. I could just feel it. It took Alyse and I forever to decide. Did I want the 2 or 3 meat platter. Ugh. I went with the two. One of the meats I chose was of course the ribs. They were Memphis style pork ribs rubbed with Joe's special rub, smoked with hickory chips in their open pit until tender. They fell off the bone just like I like them. There wasn't too much sauce. It was perfect. Exactly what I had been looking for. The second meat was called "burnt ends." Basically it was the ends of a beef brisket chopped, re-smoked in Memphis sauce and piled on a piece of Texas toast. The toast didn't do much for me, but there was so much flavor in each chunk of meat. I would definitely recommend it. Sweet bbq, yet just enough of the burnt flavor to not be overwhelming. And the meat was tender as ever. This meat overload came with cornbread, and of course I chose the two sides with the most cals. Sweet potato fries and mashed potatoes (I thought about the mac n' cheese but the waitress said it wasn't homemade... lame). Overall win... except for the lead singer of the band. She was... well... not pleasing. She seemed to like Frake though. Made him uncomfortable. Hehe.

T's Pub - Boston, MA

     I need to go back a couple Mondays ago. I had been dreaming about wings for two weeks. I seriously.... found the best place to get wings. I'm not joking. Now, I've had good wings, but these set a new standard. I had been hearing about this place called T's Pub. It's a bar that serves 25 cent wings on Monday nights. I had heard they were good, but for 25 cents, figured they would be decent but not amazing. I am very happy to say I was way wrong. 20 wings. I took 5 home. I can eat a lot. Goes to show you how big they were. They were probably some of the largest wings I have ever eaten.
     The only downside is they only have 3 kinds of wings. Buffalo, teriyaki, and T's style. The T's style was my favorite. Old Bay style, rubbed wand roasted wings, lemon wedge and ranch dipping sauce. I don't care for ranch... but oh my heavens. The outside was absolutely perfectly crispy and the inside was so moist and amazing. Sometimes you can tell when restaurants use cheap chicken because it's super fatty and greasy, but these weren't. Another plus side to these was that they weren't covered in batter. Their crispness came from the skin. It was unlike any other wing I've ever had. Buff's Pub (supposedly the best wings in Boston) has nothing on T's Pub. 

Sweet Basil Orzo - 578 Washington St. #3, Brighton, MA

     In my quest to find lower calorie, filling meals, I picked up some orzo. Not so low cal, but I had heard it was good. It was the night before pieces so I wanted to eat some iron and I had a lot of spinach. If you don't know, orzo is a kind of pasta in the shape of a large piece of flattened rice. I think it has a really cool texture and is delicious. More surface area than pasta. More taste opportunities. I don't really have an official recipe for this, because I kind of threw it together. I shall call it sweet basil orzo.

1/2 cup orzo
balsamic vinegar
fresh basil and parsley leaves
pine nuts
fresh grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
orange pepper
olive oil

1) First heat a pot of water and cook your orzo as the instructions call for, or basically as you would normally cook pasta. At the same time in a skillet, sautee some orange peppers in a little olive oil. 
2) In a small pan, melt a little butter and slightly brown a tablespoon or so of pine nuts. Make sure you watch them closely because they burn really easily. 
3) In another small saucepan, heat up a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. I'm not sure if there is a technical way to reduce the balsamic vinegar, but that's what you're aiming for. I kind of heat it up quickly and then turn down the heat a little to let it continue to reduce and thicken up. 
4) In a mini cuisinart, combine the browned pine nuts, a handful of basil and parsley leaves, your reduced balsamic vinegar, a handful of chunks of parmesan cheese, a minced garlic clove, salt and pepper. I added a drop of olive oil too. Puree it until you have a nice, mildly thin paste. 
5) At this point, add the spinach to the pan of orange peppers and just let it wilt a little. 
6) Once the pasta, peppers, and spinach are all ready, combine the sweet basil paste with the orzo and mix until it spreads evenly throughout. I saw sweet because the reduced balsamic vinegar is now mildly sweet and delicious. Kind of like candy. Next, add in the peppers and spinach for a yummy, healthy, and filling dish. 

Lemon Cajun Whiting - 578 Washington St #3, Brighton, MA
     Fish have really been getting the shaft in my diet. I was starting to feel bad. I bought some Whiting filets and thought about how to prepare them all day at work. By the time I got home it was too late and I was too lazy, so the fish would have to wait until the next day... which turned out to be for the better. Before I left for work the next day I pulled a filet out to thaw. I put it in a plastic bad and just started adding things that seemed like they may be delicious. 

Whiting filets
Lemon wedges
Basil and parsley
Cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Olive oil
Dried chilis

Here is a spotty narration of what I did. I first cut up a couple lemon wedges, squeezed the juice into the bag, and threw the rinds in anyway. I also added cut up basil and parsley (yes I know I use a lot of basil and parsley in my dishes... it's what I have, ok?), a sprinkle of cajun, cayenne pepper, fresh ground black pepper, salt, onion powder, a little garlic powder and a dash of olive oil. Right before sealing up the bag, I remembered I still had some dried chili peppers from my uncle. Last time I used these babies, Marc and I could breathe fire after making our own chili paste for some Schezwan noodles. That was after not removing any of the seeds. I learned my lesson that time, so I removed the seeds this time... well.... a few of them, chopped up the pepper and added it to the bag. It had to be a little hot, I thought. I let all the spices and such sit on the thawing fish in the fridge while I was at work. Anticipation built throughout the day. When I got home the fish was all thawed and ready for the grill. I diced up a few onions and mushrooms to put on the grill too and cooked up a Harvest Grain Blend I bought at Trader Joes. It has red and green quinoa, baby garbonzo beans, and Israeli couscous. Delicious and different. Simply enough, after 15 minutes or so on a medium to high heat, the fish was flaky and done. I can't say I've ever had fish like this before. It had the acidity of the lemon, yet spicyness of the peppers and cajun/cayenne pepper. But it wasn't overwhelming in the least. It was almost refreshing and very clean tasting. I was unsure about how I'd like the skin on the one side of the filet, but putting it on the grill gave it such a good smokey/slightly burnt taste. Yummy I say! 

Post Head of the Kevin Lamb Stew - 578 Washington St #3, Brighton, MA

     I knew I wanted to make soup on Saturday, but had no idea what kind. It was going to have potatoes, carrots, and barley, but I wasn't sure what type of meat. I wanted something on a bone. Ya know... for that whole adding more flavor idea. Once I had all my main ingredients from Trader Joes and Whole Foods, I was on the hunt for a butcher shop. While I didn't find an actual butcher shop... oh boy... did I find a goldmine. It's called Bazaar and it's a Russian grocery store with Eastern European influences. It was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! There we soooo many different types of cheeses, fresh breads, cakes and pastries, sausages, candies, meats, fish, and hot dishes. They're prices for produce were so much cheaper than other grocery stores. I couldn't read  what at least half of the products were because they were all in Russian. This place was blowing my mind. I was a kid in a candy store. I found a cheese called Uglich Cheese and had to get it because it was basically my last name with just the first 2 letters switched. Along with this cheese I bought 3 links of smoked sausage and fresh "Crusty" bread. Putting all three together in one bite later at home was just phenomenal. THEN I found lamb ribs and knew that's what I wanted for my stew. On to the recipe. Well... there really isn't much of a recipe. 

Head of the Kevin Lamb Stew

Lamb Ribs
Yellow onion
Bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil and parsley

     First, put on a pot of water and heat to a low boil. I added the 6 ribs right from the get go to create a yummy broth. Add in a couple halved garlic cloves, a ton of rosemary, salt and pepper, and 2 bay leaves. Let the meat and broth simmer for 2 hours or so. Cut up the potato into inch cubes and the onion into larger pieces. I feel like there should be a word for exactly how to cut them up, but I'm not a culinary expert yet. Cut the carrots into 3 inch long pieces and then slice each piece at a diagonal. Also cut up the celery into inch long pieces and rip up the cabbage into slightly large pieces. It will break up as it cooks. Add the potato, carrots, cabbage and celery to the pot after your broth has been simmering for the 2 hours. Side note: the ribs I used actually had a lot of fat in them, so before I started adding vegetables I pulled off some of the fat, but left the meat on the bones. Wait another hour or so and add in the basil, parsley and cabbage. Finally, 40 minutes before you're planning to serve the soup, add in a cup or two of rinsed whole barley. The barley is going to expand, so add as much as you plan to have in proportion to the amount of broth you currently have. Salt and pepper to taste, if you wish. This recipe is very much so an "add as much as you think you'll need/want" kind of recipe. That's one thing I'm starting to learn about soup. It's pretty hard to screw up. Another side note: Since there seemed to be quite a bit of fat/oil from the ribs, I removed the thin layer of chilled oil/fat the next day after it had been refrigerated. I'd suggest finding meat with not a lot of fat. Either that or remove some of the fat before you add the meat to the pot. Enjoy!

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